Outta' the Woods
Monday, March 01, 2010
Media contact: Tony Young
Better start brushing up on your turkey calling,
because spring gobbler season's here. Whether you prefer to
use a mouth call, box call, slate or any combination, March means
it's time to start talkin' turkey.
One of the most coveted and sought-after game
species in Florida is the Osceola turkey, also known as the Florida
turkey. This unique bird is one of five subspecies of wild
turkey in North America.
The Osceola lives only on the Florida peninsula and
nowhere else in the world, making it extremely popular with
out-of-state hunters. They're similar to the Eastern
subspecies (found in the Panhandle) but tend to be a bit smaller
and typically are darker with less white barring on the primary
flight feathers of their wings.
The white bars on the Osceola are narrower, with an
irregular, broken pattern, and don't extend to the feather
shaft. When the wings fold across the back, the whitish
triangular patch formed is less prominent on the Osceola because of
this. And, Osceola feathers tend to show more iridescent
green and red colors, with less bronze than the Eastern.
The National Wild Turkey Federation and the Florida
Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) recognize any wild
turkey harvested within or south of the counties of Dixie,
Gilchrist, Alachua, Union, Bradford, Clay and Duval to be the
Osceola subspecies. Eastern turkeys and hybrids are found
north and west of these counties into the Panhandle.
The highly anticipated spring turkey season runs
March 6 - April 11 in the South Hunting Zone and March 20 - April
25 in the Northwest and Central zones. The exception is
Holmes County, where the season runs March 20 - April 4.
Hunters may take bearded turkeys and gobblers only,
and the daily bag limit is one. The season and possession
limit on turkeys is two, except in Holmes County, where the season
limit is one.
Shotguns are the best choice when hunting turkeys,
but if you're so inclined, you may use a rifle, muzzleloader or
handgun, or you can try your luck with a bow or crossbow.
Shooting hours on private lands are one-half hour
before sunrise to sunset, but on wildlife management areas (WMAs),
you must quit hunting at 1 p.m.
Of course, you can use turkey decoys to help entice
that stubborn old bird, but you're not permitted to hunt turkeys
with dogs, use recorded turkey calls or sounds, shoot them while
they're on the roost or over bait. You also can't hunt them
when you're within 100 yards of a game-feeding station, when feed
To participate in spring turkey hunting, you'll
need a Florida hunting license and a turkey permit. If you
plan to pursue a gobbler on one of Florida's many WMAs, you also
must purchase a management area permit.
All of these licenses and permits are available at
county tax collectors' offices, most retail outlets that sell
hunting and fishing supplies, by calling toll-free 888-HUNT-FLORIDA
(486-8356) or online at www.wildlifelicense.com/fl.
If you didn't put in for a special-opportunity or
quota permit, don't worry, several WMAs don't require them.
Visit MyFWC.com/Hunting and under "This Month's Hunting
Opportunities," click on " Spring turkey: Where to hunt without a
quota permit" to see a list of WMAs where you need only a hunting
license, management area permit and turkey permit to hunt spring
If you take a turkey with at least an 11-inch beard
and 1 ¼-inch spurs, get your name listed in the FWC's Wild Turkey
Registry by applying for an "Outstanding Gobbler
Certificate." There's also a "First Gobbler Certificate"
awarded to hunters under age 16 who harvest their first gobbler,
regardless of beard and spur measurements. Applications for
both are available at MyFWC.com/Hunting.
Whether it's going solo after that elusive old tom
or double-teaming a pair of birds with your buddy, March means
spring gobbler season.
Here's wishing you a successful spring turkey
season. Remember to introduce someone new to the sport of
hunting when you can. As always, have fun, hunt safely and
ethically, and we'll see you in the woods!